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PV system integrator, Solarcentury, has begun constructing a 9.9MW merchant PV power plant in Panama, its first project in Latin America.

The UK-headquartered firm will be the principal engineering, procurement and construction contractor for solar investor ECOSolar on the Divisa Solar system, which it will build in Panama’s Coclé province with local firm Hybrytec.

Once the plant is complete, Solarcentury will also operate and maintain the plant for ECOSolar.

Divisa will be one of a small but growing number of so-called merchant PV power plants that sell their power on the spot market rather than through power purchase agreements to specific off-takers. Merchant plants are becoming possible in an increasing number of countries because of PV’s growing competitiveness with power from expensive conventional sources.

Alberto Rabanal, CEO at ECOSolar said: “ECOSolar has positioned itself as a go-to investor for solar projects and in this particular case, this solar farm has been developed from scratch by the ECOSolar team to sell 100% of its generated electricity to the Panamanian spot market. The construction of the solar farm was financed through a non-recourse loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.”

Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel, said: “It’s all systems go as we now bring our experience of building large-scale solar to Latin America, the third continent in which we’re designing and building solar systems. We have offices in Chile, Mexico and Panama, and with a growing pipeline of projects throughout the Latin American region, we welcome the opportunity to work with forward-thinking investors, such as ECOSolar.”

Construction began in January 2015 with the aim of connecting to the grid in May 2015.

Solarcentury has also begun building projects in East Africa, where it has recently launched a new business aimed at meeting growing demand for commercial solar plants.